Large data centers are a source of concern for the West

DALLS, ORE (AP) – Conflicts over water are as old as history itself, but huge Google data centers on the Columbia River on the outskirts of this Oregon city represent 21st century concerns.

Nowadays, data centers are an integral part of modern computing. But a facility can generate millions of gallons of water a day to cool hot-scale equipment.

Google wants to build at least two more data centers in Dales, which some residents fear will eventually not have enough water for everyone – including local farms and orchards, which are still the biggest beneficiaries.

Across the United States, there have been some small pressures on technology companies building and expanding data centers – conflicts can escalate as water becomes more valuable in the face of climate change and demand for cloud computing increases. Some technology giants have been using excellent research and development to find low-impact cooling methods, but there are those who say they can still do more for environmental sustainability.

The concern is that Washington, the capital of Washington, is suffering from a severe and unique drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The region reached 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Fahrenheit) last summer.

Dales is near the mighty Columbia River, but the new data centers will not be able to use that water and will instead have to draw water from rivers and groundwater past the city’s water treatment plant.

However, the ski slopes in the nearby Cascade Range vary from year to year and the glaciers are melting. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Groundwater Relief Program, most reservoirs in north-central Oregon are shrinking.

Adding to the frustration, 15,000 residents of the city do not know how much water the planned databases use because Google calls it a trade secret. Even city council members scheduled to vote on the November 8 proposal had to wait until this week to find out.

Dals’ Public Works Director Dave Anderson said Google acquired 3.9 million gallons of water a day after purchasing land with an aluminum smelter. Google is requesting less water for the new databases and will transfer these rights to the city, Anderson said.

“The city is moving forward,” he said.

“It’s a long-term commitment to the county’s economy and natural resources,” Google said.

“We are pleased to continue to discuss with local authorities an agreement that will enable us to grow and support the community,” Google said. Dry seasons.

The US hosts 30% of the world’s data centers, more than any other country. Some data centers are trying to be more efficient in water consumption, for example by reusing the same water several times before it is released. Google uses purified sewage instead of drinking water like many other data centers to cool its facility in Douglas County, Georgia.

Facebook’s first information center has taken a step forward by using the cold desert air in Prinville Oregon to cool its servers and build a center near Lulia Sweden near the Arctic Circle.

Microsoft has set up a small data center on what looks like a giant cigar on the seafront outside Scotland. Last year, two years later, after removing the container from the barn, the company’s employees noticed an improvement in overall reliability because of the fact that its servers are subject to temperature fluctuations and degradation of oxygen and moisture. The group’s leader, Ben Kathler, said the experiment showed that data centers could be cooled without affecting clean water resources.

A study published in May by researchers at Virginia Tech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that one-fifth of data centers are water-dependent in the middle to high-pressure basins.

Landon Marston, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, co-author of the study, said Landon Marston, a technology company that considers tax relief and cheap electricity and land.

Water effects should be seriously considered and facilities should be placed in areas where they can be better maintained, both for environmental benefit and for their own origin, said Marston.

“It’s also a risk and a challenge for data centers and their operators because the drought we’re seeing in the West is expected to be worse,” Marston said.

An hour’s drive east of Dales, Amazon is recovering some of the water used by data centers. Amazon’s vast campuses are located between Bordeaux and Umatila, Oregon, and close to farms, cheese factories, and neighboring areas. Like many data centers, water is mainly used in the summer, and the servers are left to cool for the rest of the year.

Amazon uses two-thirds of its water vapor. The rest is treated and sent to irrigation canals that feed on crops and grazing.

Davy Stokedale, manager of Omatila City, appreciates that farms and ranches are getting that water, because the main reason for the city’s growing Amazon resources is the city’s inability to handle the flow of water data centers.

John Devo, executive director of Oregon Water Waters, which wants to improve water laws to protect and restore rivers, has been criticized as a “corporate approach.”

“Does the server’s farm properly reduce any damage to proper water use over other needs of the same source, such as the environment, fish, and wildlife?” Devo said.

Adam Slipski, CEO of Amazon Web Services, has said that Amazon feels responsible for the impact.

“We are very aware of the intentional use of water in these projects,” he said, adding that the centers have brought economic activity and job opportunities to the region.

Dawn Rasmussen, who lives on the outskirts of Dales, worries that the city is making a mistake in negotiating with Google, comparing it to David and Goliath.

She has seen her well water levels drop year by year and her anxiety may sooner or later not be enough for everyone.

“If there is not enough water at the end of the day, who will win?” She asked.

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